Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is about a charismatic intellectual (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who creates his own religion and the drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) he trains to be his right-hand man. Since the inception of the project, it has been implied and/or assumed that the story was partly influenced by the life of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. Philip Seymour Hoffman, however, is quoted in the new issue of EW opposing the idea that The Master is only about Scientology:
“It’s not the L. Ron Hubbard story… [Scientology] was one of the bigger movements at the time, but there were a lot of movements at that time. There’s nothing about how I’m behaving or talking that echoes [Hubbard]. I thought of a lot of other bigger-than-life personalities, charismatic people like Orson Welles.”
Hit the jump for more, including 12 new images from the movie.
Producer JoAnne Sellar left it more open to interpretation how much The Master is a “Scientology movie” in speaking to EW:
“People are going to have to draw their own conclusions to that aspect of the movie… [Anderson] is interested in how veterans came back from World War II. They were these lost souls who were uncertain about their future.”
Downplaying the connection to Scientology is probably best in presenting a standalone work of art, and it is definitely a smart political move in Hollywood. But it would be hard to argue there is no connection. Example: In the trailer, Hoffman says, “I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher…” Hubbard’s book All About Radiation was first credited to “a nuclear physicist and a medical doctor.” The 1950s setting and similar physical appearance between Hubbard and Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd will, if the audience draws their own conclusions, probably lead toward a few more Scientology comparisons.
Images via Cigarettes & Red Vines: